Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gordon Clark: The Atonement

I am currently about to finish Gordon H. Clark's The Atonement. The book is basically set up as one long chapter broken down into sections. Each section leads into the next section. The doctrine of Redemption leads to the doctrine of grace which leads to a discussion on the doctrine of the incarnation and so on.

One of the lengthiest chapters is on the subject of Traducianism. It is great to know that I stand in the company of brilliant men for he defends Traducianism with sound argumentation. I only wish I had this book at the time I wrote my paper in 2008.

In the second to last chapter, Clark deals with God's sovereignty, especially as it deals with God's justice. Clark raises the issue which reminds me of David Ellis' question in one of the comments section.
And, again, I ask: would you judge God, if he made the claim that sadism is good, to be evil?
Clark interacts with Grotius and the Hodges on this very point. He states on page 128,
Hodge, who rejects Grotius' view of the atonement, is perhaps a little, but not much, better. God, he says, "wills the precept because it is intrinsically right.... There must be an absolute standard of righteousness." Such a statement places a standard of justice outside of God.
To which he notes,
It raises the question as to the difference between will and nature.
He then discusses in some sense that God's will is not the same as human will.
If we speak of the human will, we refer to a somewhat momentary act of choice. After having considered the relative desirability of this versus that line of action, or (what is the same thing) between an action and doing nothing...We decide and do it. Then when we start to study theology and to consider the will of God, we are apt to think or subconsciously suppose that God makes decisions.
Clark then argues sufficiently that we may not divorce God's nature from God will. Then argues,
From the immutability and omniscience of God it follows necessarily that there is indeed no other possible method of salvation--not however, for the reason Hodge gives, but simply because of this immutability.
This relates to Ellis' question simply because there is nothing higher than God to which one may appeal. On page 133, Clark "settles the question",
As previously asserted by the present writer, the sacrifice of Christ on the cross satisfied the justice of the Father. But now it should be clear that justice is one facet of sovereignty. There is no moral principle superior to God. I can say that there is no moral principle superior to the will of God. God's will and God's intellect are identical. Justice is what God thinks. To suppose that anything could have been otherwise is to suppose that God could have been otherwise than He is. [emphasis mine]
Perhaps this may in part answer Ellis' question, although based upon the repeated assertions and questions, I doubt his presuppositions will allow him to see that.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

LDS Missionaries Stop By

It has been several years, but I recently had the privilege to sit down with the local LDS missionaries and talk about our respective faiths. Even my son decided to sit down, listen in, and experience the painful but subtle attacks against the Bible.

During our conversation and almost within the first half hour, the missionaries did something I had not experienced in a very long time. They pretty much gave their version of an altar call. Basically, my son and I listened patiently to the missionaries present their belief that Joseph Smith is a prophet. Then they quickly took their presentation to a point that called upon my son and I to decide if we wanted to know if Smith was truly a prophet. The room became quiet as we let the silliness of the moment sink. For the missionaries were not asking us to think but to feel if Smith was a prophet.

As awkward as the moment was, even I was at a loss for a moment as to what to say. I knew it was pure nonsense, yet I was doing everything I could not to run them out of my house by being over zealous. As calmly as I could, I steered the conversation back to Scripture. I went to Deuteronomy 13 as an answer to their "decision". The true prophet Moses states in that text:
"If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.
Now we have every reason to believe Moses was a true prophet of God. We also have every reason to believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. We have every reason to believe the God has spoken to us in His Word. Yet when I pointed out that their view of the nature of God plainly and sufficiently contradicted what Moses had to say, they began their subtle attack on the sufficiency of the Bible.

It was here that the missionaries showed their true colors. Their arguments were exactly that of Rome's. One must have an infallible external authority in order to know and understand Scripture. So yet again, the issue became the sufficiency of Scripture. Is God able to speak in such a way that men are culpable for what is said? For the LDS church, and Rome for that matter, the answer is "no".

The conversation went for over two hours and all of my questions almost always reverted back to the sufficiency of Scripture. For LDS members, the answer will always be "Utah says so." For the Christian, the answer must always remain faithful to what God has spoken through Christ and His Apostles and Prophets.

In the end, one of the missionaries did say something that quite surprised me. He said that I had offered him the most thorough explanation of the Gospel he had heard. I guess on the one hand I take that as a compliment. On the other hand, I find it quite sad that for a 21 year old man, to have never heard the Gospel in a consistent presentation is more of an indictment and a blemish upon the Christian church.

To be honest, I know there are things that I did not say because I am in no way prepared to deal with LDS missionaries. It is far too much work. I feel lazy, and that is no excuse. Nevertheless, I pray for these young men. Perhaps God would be gracious unto them and show them the inconsistency of their beliefs and bring them to a place in which they would be willing to repent of their sin and polytheism, and turn to the One True and only living God and His Son.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Haiti: part 3 by Richard Smith

There is also another older teaching about the character of God that helps us make sense of things. This was called the simplicity of God. This teaches us that God is unified in His attributes in all ways. Human beings cannot perceive all of His glory and so we have to break things down and look at the aspects of the one and we call those attributes. This is to say that in each act of God His whole character is displayed. When God sent the Son to the cross, all of His character was put on display in the cross. We see the brightness of His grace, mercy, and love; but we also see the glory of His holiness, justice, and wrath. We don’t have to say that it is just the wrath of God or just the love of God being shown. His whole glory is seen in the Haiti situation if we have eyes to see.

Al Mohler argues that God did not send an earthquake to judge Germany and no tsunami to the killing fields of Cambodia. He also asks “why do so many murderous dictators live to old age while many missionaries die young?” Those questions seem to limit the judgments of God to one way, when in fact God judges all sin and He uses differing judgments. Germany was judged and the killing fields of Cambodia was judged. Murderous dictators live long lives at times in order that their cup of judgment may be full. Missionaries die young because God uses the blood of martyrs and burned out lives to His glory. In fact, spiritual judgments are the worst kinds and they shine on every nation at every moment. It is day after day that the wrath of God is poured out by hardening hearts and turning people over to sin. It is day after day that the wrath of God is poured out by withdrawing Himself and His gracious hand in restraining sin. It is day after day that the wrath of God is poured out by not giving people spiritual understanding which is the only food for the soul that there is.

How does all of this help us understand that is going on in Haiti? What we must understand is that God is very God-centered and not human-centered. We must understand Him by how He reveals Himself and not just by the standards of human pain or pleasure. John Piper has said in a recorded lecture in the last several years that there are perhaps millions of people screaming in unrequited pain right now. I might add that I may have the numbers wrong and a word or two wrong, but the basic idea is right. In Haiti right now there are people suffering with crushed limbs. There are many people having limbs amputated without pain killers. There are perhaps many people still alive under all sorts of concrete and materials that have fallen on them. Our theology must be strong enough to handle situations like this or we will falter at some point. There are perhaps hundreds of thousands of people who have been killed and yet probably as many who are suffering. Let us not say that this happened simply because of the hatred of God or because of the love of God (used in a worldly and unspecified sense). The suffering of the people of Haiti must be understood in light of the glory of God as that is the only way it can be understood.

Al Mohler said that “Christ would have us rush to aid the suffering people of Haiti, and rush to tell the Haitian people of his love, his cross, and salvation in his name alone.” Indeed we should rush to the Haitians with aid, but what are we to tell them? Shall we tell a person that has been rescued from a pile of rubbish after several days of agony and then to have limbs removed without pain killer that God loves him? Maybe what that person needs to hear is that this earthquake came because of the hand of God. He intends wrath to some and yet to some He might save them. To a soul that has endured so much pain and devastation the sound of the words that God loves them is like mocking them. It is of no comfort to one who is experiencing brutal reality unless we really explain where the true love of God is found. It is found in Christ alone and no other place. We have no place in Scripture where we are told to evangelize by telling people that God loves them. But instead they are commanded to repent and believe. Instead they are told that they need new hearts. It is far more biblical to tell people that God has sent a terrible physical judgment upon them and they need to repent or something far worse will happen (Luke 13:1-5).

While the wrath of God has been shown on Haiti in a physical judgment, a spiritual judgment is far worse. The United States needs to look at Haiti and cry out to God for mercy on Haiti and itself. God has shown forth His glory in Haiti and all nations need to look and learn. God is not limited in His ways of judgments and He shows forth spiritual judgments every single day. We live in a land that is under spiritual judgment and great darkness. That is not happening because God loves us, but because His wrath is upon us. Spiritual judgments are devastating to souls. In our land today there are many who are spiritually crushed beneath the rubbish of liberalism and bad theology. Yet we are not rushing to the aid of those people because we smile and tell ourselves that God loves them and us. In fact, we are mostly blind to the spiritual judgments going on. People are groaning in misery because of their blindness and sin and we smile and tell them that God loves them. We are not being faithful to the Gospel when we do so. People in earthquake ravaged Haiti need to know that God judges sin and that salvation is found in Christ alone. But people in America who are under the ravaging effects of spiritual judgment need to hear the same thing as well. Many nations are pouring aid to Haiti, and rightfully so, but who will pour out spiritual aid to us who are under spiritual judgment? There are many things that should drive us to prayer, but the glory of the wrath of God and the love of God is seen in differing ways in Haiti. Perhaps the glory of God that has shone forth in Haiti cannot be seen in its truth to us in America because we are too blind to the truth and glory of God. Does God hate Haiti? Yes, He has certainly poured out His wrath on some there. Does God love Haiti? We can only know this if sinners are truly brought to His love in Christ Jesus. That is as far as the Bible lets us go. Each sinner will be judged individually before God, and not just a nation. That is true of all nations as well.

Haiti: part 2 by Richard Smith

If Al Mohler is right that God loves Haiti then it would logically follow from that position that God sent the earthquake out of love and that all He does is out of love. If we argue that John 3:16 shows that God loves the world (as Mohler argues), then we have to say again that the love of God sent the earthquake. It is best to distinguish the kinds of love that God has instead of using His love as undefined and generalized. Older theologians distinguished between the love of benevolence and the love of complacence. A benevolent love was the love of God in causing the sun to shine on all and giving all rain. But the love of complacence was when God set His delight and pleasure on a soul. We could distinguish it a bit more and say that the benevolence of God is His external acts of kindness to all creatures, but His complacent love is when He pours forth His Spirit in a heart, dwells in that soul and gives it a love for Himself so that it shares in His love for Himself. Apart from Jesus Christ the complacent love of God (indwelling love giving love for Himself) is not found.

Once we begin to see how the Bible itself makes a distinction in types of love, this enables us to get a better handle on the nature of God and His actions in the world at large and in Haiti in particular. Mohler argues that God loves Haiti now and the proof of that is that He is sending them all sorts of aid and even missionaries, but the kind of God that the Bible reveals is a God that can severely judge a nation by sending it missionaries and aid. Perhaps this sounds beastly, but we must remember that though God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16) He also sent His Son to blind souls in judgment. This same God sent Isaiah and Jeremiah out with messages intended to harden souls and prepare them with judgment. God gives a people spiritual leaders that they deserve in the sense that He judges people by sending them men who will preach in order to tickle their ears.
37 But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: "LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT? AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED?"39 For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, 40 "HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM." (John 12:37-40).
God has sent messengers in the past to harden people and Isaiah 6 is perhaps the clearest passage on that. God prepared Isaiah to be His messenger by shining forth His glory to Isaiah. The message that Isaiah was to take was a message that was intended to harden the people. We like to hear of the glory that Isaiah saw, but we ignore what he was being prepared for. It is also true that God has great mercy on sinners day in and day out (benevolent type of love), but the Scripture also tells us the end result of some of that:
“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Rom2:5).
The kindness of God leads to a greater judgment when it is spurned.

Haiti: Part 1 by Richard Smith

My friend Richard Smith has given permission to reproduce his newsletter article on the catastrophe in Haiti. He offers a perspective that I think is more biblically thorough. Due to its length, I have broken it up into three posts.

By Richard Smith

It has been reported that a religious “leader” said that God hates Haiti. Yet Al Mohler ( has written that God loves Haiti. Those two positions are polar opposites. What we do know, and that without any real question, is that the earthquake was in the sovereign hands of God. This is the God who is “The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these” (Isaiah 45:7). God is not ashamed of His works and the destruction that He brings. In fact, He calls for people to see what He has done: “Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has wrought desolations in the earth” (Psalm 46:8). Amos 3:6 also tells us that “If a trumpet is blown in a city will not the people tremble? If a calamity occurs in a city has not the LORD done it?” We can also say with confidence that there is no calamity in any nation or any planet where the LORD has not done it. So Scripture gives us no wiggle room to say that God had nothing to do with this. It takes us to the next question which has to do with His intent and motives were in doing so.

The question of God hating is one that people have a hard time accepting. We have all heard that God is love and so just assume that He loves all people in all ways at all times. It is true that I John 4:8 and 16 specifically teach that God is love. But what is not set out with the words is what that means. So people just assume that to say God is love means that He is love to all people in all ways at all times. But what we must also remember is that the Bible clearly teaches that God hates. Psalm 5:5 gives a clear teaching on this: “The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity.” Proverbs 6:16-19 tells us several things that the Lord hates:
“There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: 17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, 19 A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.”
It is hard to imagine that He hates the eyes, tongues, hands, hearts, feet, false witnesses, and those who spread strife without hating the ones who do them. How can we hate all the parts of the person and not the person?

Hosea 9:15 speaks to the Israelites, even the physical nation of His chosen people:
“All their evil is at Gilgal; Indeed, I came to hate them there! Because of the wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out of My house! I will love them no more; All their princes are rebels.”
When God says in Matthew 25:41, “'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels,” it is hard to imagine that He loves those at that point rather than hate them. Romans 1:18 points to the judgment of God that comes on ungodliness every day: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” It is, once again, hard to understand this verse if we think of His wrath being poured out on those He loves. The doctrine of hell surely teaches us that those who have the wrath and abhorrence of God poured out on them for eternity are not loved by God.

I think it can be safely concluded that God is a God of love and yet He is a God who hates. In some way, then, we have to wrestle with how to understand the Bible which clearly teaches both issues. But another important point is that the Bible also teaches that God is holy, holy, holy and not love, love, love. The holiness of God is vital to God and He will not compromise His holiness for anything or anyone. He will not save or love in a way which compromises His holiness. Though there is not space to get into this in a very deep way at all, what we must understand is that it is not just any God we are talking about, but He is triune. We are not just talking about any love, but the love of a triune God. When the Bible speaks of God being love, it refers to the love He has for Himself primarily. God exists in love between the Father and the Son and the Spirit of love. God was love for all eternity living in love for Himself. He could have been perfect love and have never saved one human soul. He was and is perfect love despite the fact that when the angels fell He cast them out and never saved one of them.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Judicial Activism

Many today in the Media and the Democratic party are charging the Supreme Court with Judicial activism. In this opinion piece by , he offers what many are saying.
The Supreme Court's 5-4 decision holding that corporations and unions can spend unlimited amounts of money in election campaigns is a stunning example of judicial activism by its five most conservative justices. In striking down a federal statute and explicitly overturning prior decisions, the court has changed the nature of elections in the United States. At the same time, the conservative justices have demonstrated that decades of conservative criticism of judicial activism was nonsense. Conservative justices are happy to be activists when it serves their ideological agenda.
The book of Proverbs states,
4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,

or you will be like him yourself.

5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
or he will be wise in his own eyes.

1) First I'd like to grant the false premise that this decision was in fact judicial activism. Why are they upset about it? Did any of these people complain about judicial activism when the Supreme Court made one of the worst decision in American jurisprudence in Roe v. Wade? Nope! Did any of these people think the Supreme Court had abdicated its Constitutional role when the court decided to become a "national school board" by making constant decisions in local school and state matters?

For the Political Left to cry foul is to show their true colors. They only like judicial activism when they are in power. This is why they seek to institutionalize liberalism and to never allow conservatives in positions of authority. That is what the so-called "bail outs" were about. That is what welfare is about. That is what public school is about. That is what health care is about. Ect Ect.. Having the tables turned is never fair play with the Left.

2) I reject the false premise that this is judicial activism. I should only need to cite the First Amendment which plainly states, "Congress shall make no law...." There it is folks. Conservatives win hands down. No more needs to be said. Common sense can read and understand what this says and means.

But for those that can not read, it says "Congress shall make no law". This means that Congress may not pass a law that restricts political speech. Notice this statement in the opinion piece cited above.
...McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. Among other things, the law banned corporations from paying to broadcast "electioneering communications" for or against candidates in the final weeks of presidential primaries and general elections.
Why should it be wrong to campaign for and promote a candidate or a political idea? If any person or group of people may campaign 6 months prior to an election, how does congress appropriate to itself the power to restrict free speech days prior?

The fact that this is a major decision that goes against much of what has been done since "1906" is irrelevant. It only means that the Congress has been violating the Constitution for that length of time. For instance this exchange during the arguments took place according to the NYTimes,
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. asked, for instance, whether a campaign biography in book form could be banned. Mr. Stewart said yes, so long as it was paid for with a corporation’s general treasury money, as opposed to its political action committee.

“That’s pretty incredible,” Justice Alito said.

This is the logical conclusion of violating the First Amendment. If you can take it away from person, then everyone is in danger. Therefore the charge that this is judicial activism is plainly false. The Constitution won, and the Left lost.

Chemerinsky does ask,
What changed over the last eight years? In the 2003 decision, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor joined with John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer to make up the majority. O'Connor's replacement, Samuel A. Alito Jr. voted the other way and joined with conservatives John G. Roberts Jr., Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas to declare the same law unconstitutional.
Kind of strange twisted logic. If the court had the current make up then that it has now, would it have been activism? Perhaps the current court can read that simple phrase, "Congress shall make no law..."

The strongest argument comes in this paragraph,
For decades, conservatives have argued that judicial restraint requires that courts protect rights only if they are stated in the text of the Constitution or were clearly intended by the document's framers. This, for example, is the core of the conservative attack on Roe vs. Wade. But there is not the slightest shred of evidence that the framers of the 1st Amendment meant to protect the rights of corporations to spend money in election campaigns. The conservatives were glad to abandon the "original meaning" when it served their purposes.
This is just plain false. Everyone (I assume everyone since I know it, therefore everyone else must) knows that coporations have always been defined as "persons" according to the rule of law. This is so basic that courts even recognize marriages as one person.

I also doubt he really believes this. He is not about to abandon Roe v. Wade is he? Roe v Wade is clearly an activist decision. There is noting about women's privacy to murder babies. Yet the First Amendment is quite clear. Term switching doesn't change the reality that Congress has made a law that contradicts the plain statement of the Constitution.

Roeder's Trial

Scott Roeder's trial has been going on the past couple of weeks. This story from the Wichita Eagle says that this trial is not merely about whether or not Scott murdered George Tiller. This article, which has been archived, states,
When Scott Roeder's murder trial begins Monday, the question won't be whether or not he killed George Tiller.
Instead, the trial will become yet another circus. Rhetoric will be on trial. Of course merely saying abortion is what it is, murder, will no doubt be the issue.
The day of Tiller's death, abortion-rights advocates claimed rhetoric by abortion opponents went too far and pushed someone to kill one of the country's four late-term abortion providers.
And of course the typical response will be,
Anti-abortion advocates immediately disavowed Roeder's actions, claiming they never supported violence in their pursuit to end Tiller's practice.
Sound bites just don't do justice, and that's all we are getting here.

The Prolife movement does need to become more philosophically rigorous and perhaps even needs to be more forthright about why Scott Roeder did what he did. The reason is simple. We all know why he did what he did. There is no point in hiding it. That only continues to make the Prolife movement look like the squeamish, irrational movement the Media portrays it to be.

To put it another way, we need to stop trying to get the Mainstream Media to like us. We need to wake up to the fact they never will. Instead we need to get to the heart of the issues and take the offensive in explaining to the average person what abortion truly is. In a time when the Mainstream Media is viewed with skepticism, why not take advantage of the opportunity?

There are a couple of good responses such as Beckwith's Moral argument verses Prudential argument distinction and Mohler's God's sovereignty and the role of government position. How to be more consistent and thorough in these positions as well as mainstreaming them into the hands of the average layman is truly the challenge.

In conclusion, with this trial well underway, it is time for Prolifers to stop making excuses and start explaining with sound thinking and reasoning and looking for leaders who are able to articulate the Prolife position. And to do so without any shame or embarrassment. The lives of innocent children depend on it.

Supreme Court Favors Political Free Speech

Money in politics is a problem. It always has been. However, freedom and liberty and the First Amendment may not be sacrificed to whatever noble intentions we think we have. Apparently the Supreme Court has made a new ruling against the McCain/Feingold Act. I have despised McCain for his willingness to pitch free speech for his political agenda and have said as much on this Blog. Michelle Malkin reports,
In a stunning reversal of the nation’s federal campaign finance laws, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Thursday that as an exercise of free speech, corporations, labor unions and other groups can directly spend on political campaigns.
According to Newsmax President Obama is upset over this.
President Barack Obama on Thursday strongly criticized a Supreme Court ruling removing limits on corporate donations for political campaigns, saying it was a major victory for banks and oil and health insurance companies.

"With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics," Obama said in a statement.
Now I realize that many despise "special interest groups". Here is the problem. The First Amendment to our Constitution states,
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
As much as a person may hate the evil oil companies or the evil health insurance companies, we have no right to take away their Constitutional rights. If Obama and McCain can overthrow the Constitution by taking the right of free political speech against one person or group, then they can take it away from anyone.

Just because a person has more money and is willing to spend it promoting an idea or a political campaign than we might be able does not mean it is inherently unfair. In a free society, we have the freedom to compete and to put forth our ideas in the public square. For Obama and McCain to say otherwise is to favor one group against another by the force of Law, which denies another great American principle...equal access to the rule of law.

In conclusion, I love oil companies. I work for a Natural Gas company. I want them to thrive and have the freedom to go and get as much oil as the market will allow. Competition is a great thing in both politics and business.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Beckwith With Thoughts On the Canon

TurretinFan of AOMin has interacted with Francis Beckwith's recent blog post. Beckwith is now using the same argument against Sola Scriptura many Roman Catholic Apologists have been using for quite some time. How do Protestants know what books belong in the canon of Scripture since Scripture does not have an infallible index within its own pages? Therefore, Protestants must be borrowing from Rome's authority to know that there are 66 books of the Bible and which books they are.

Turretin rightly concludes:
What Beckwith's argument essentially asks the reader to do is to derive the belief about the number of books of Bible without the Bible. Then having taken away the Bible, Beckwith claims that the number of books can't be determined. But this is simply a game of bait and switch. Beckwith lures the reader in with a proposal to derive something from the Bible but then takes away the Bible.

Finally Beckwith asks:
Where have I gone wrong in this reasoning?
To which we may reply that he went wrong when he made the switch from letting us have the Bible to taking it away from us. If we have the Bible, we can easily tell you the number of books, even if the table of contents is missing. If we don't have the Bible, we're not dealing with Sola Scriptura any more.
Having had this conversation many times over, I'd like to add a couple of thoughts.

1) First, I would love to ask how Mr. Beckwith knows there are 66 books of the Bible. He would obviously say, as a Roman Catholic, that it is the RC church's authority to tell us this information. Of course, then I would ask how he knows the church has this authority. Of which he would then explain that Jesus told us in Matthew 16 that Rome has this authority. To which I would then ask how he knows Matthew 16 is God's Word. He would then respond by saying the church says so. To which I would ask...I think you might get the point now.

This leads to circular reasoning. Of course a couple of Roman Catholics have explained to me that this is not circular but spiral. That has been an interesting spin, but call it what they will. A circle is still a circle.

2) If we were living in the 20th year of the wilderness wandering after the Exodus from Egypt among the Israelites, and God spoke to Moses, and Moses wrote down what God said, would we need an infallible external authority to tell us that what God said to Moses and what Moses wrote down was in fact God's Word? Of course not! When God speaks, that is His own Word and authority. There is nothing higher to appeal. In other words, Moses would never have appealed to Rome's authority or any external authority. It would not only have begged the question, it would have undermined God's own authority.

So after Moses finished the first five books of the Bible, the people of God did not need to have an infallible index within the Bible. If you wanted to know at the time how many books were in the Bible, you simply would have counted them.

In conclusion, Rome has never been needed to know infallibly what books or their number should be in the Bible. The Bible is self-authenticating. This does not mean the Bible is without a witness by Rome and other churches such as the Eastern Orthodox or even church fathers such as Athanasius. It simply means that what Roman apologists require of the Bible is not necessary and is in fact is an un-Biblical epistemology.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


With all of the destruction seen on our TV sets of Haiti, many Americans are wondering what to do. Well, at lunch today, the ladies sitting around my lunch table were talking about the number of orphans that will be in Haiti due to the deaths of so many parents. So I bet you can guess where this conversation went...Adoption.

Adoption is something I do not think I have ever written about on this Blog. Perhaps it is because it is a subject that absolutely bothers me to no end. Why? Because I have looked into adopting orphaned children. I have come to one conclusion. Bureaucracies and lawyers simply want to get their fingers on a pot of money they think Americans will give them. It does not matter if I want a child in the States or over seas. The amount of money that it would cost is more than I have paid for my house (and I am still paying for that).

So here we are. Sitting around the lunch table watching the horror in Haiti. My wife agrees with me that if the bureaucratic red tape were cut and if the lawyer legal fees were cut to say a $100 instead of $30,000, then tomorrow, we would apply for at least 3 children.

Instead of governments and lawyers getting out of the way, I must sit here in frustration. I must sit in a land of plenty wondering how did we ever get to this point. The very people who say we must be compassionate are the very same people who will stand in the way of helping.

I don't know what the answer is. I know some would respond by arguing that if there wasn't big government, then there would be other problems. Well, as true as that may be, the cost of a child's life without loving parents is far greater. I simply do not have the tens of thousands of dollars required by big government. So once again, our neighbor is in need, and all we can do is sit here.

Learn From Mother Teresa To Follow Christ?

In a recent sermon given by a friend of mine an interesting statement was made concerning what it means to follow Jesus. The logical conclusion was that if Mother Teresa were still alive, and if we could work with her, we would know what it means to follow Jesus.

Now to even challenge such an idea in today's postmodern climate is heresy. Evangelicals have so abandoned the Gospel or have become so biblically illiterate, or so watered down the meaning of language, that the Gospel has become something we do and not something Christ has done. The Gospel becomes redefined in such a way as to bring unity among those who would otherwise be opposed to one another.

What is interesting is that my Jehovah's Witness friend believes Roman Catholics do not preach the Kingdom of God. He sees the work of Jehovah's Witnesses as being unique. Yet by my pastor friend's definition of what it means to follow Christ, would not a Jehovah's Witness be a Christian? What about Mormons? They put more of their money, time and effort into "following Christ" than most other groups. Are they Christian as well? Why stop there? Let's include Gandhi.

In other words, why make something of Mother Teresa that she would never have claimed for herself. If she was a faithful Roman Catholic (I have no doubt she was) then why turn her into someone who denied Rome's teaching on Justification or Indulgences or the Mass or the Treasury of Merit or Purgatory (all of which denies the Biblical Gospel). Certainly she had a love of her neighbor that flowed from her man-made religion. That is easily explained by the fact she was made in the image of God and therefore very religious. However, being religious does not equal being saved by God's grace alone due to the finished work of Christ alone in which we trust by faith alone.

The question of what it means to "follow Christ" needs to be answered. The Gospel needs to be defined with clarity. The different groups need to have their views contrasted with a biblical definition of these things. We need not make Mother Teresa believe something she never claimed for herself. We need not make Rome's view of the Gospel something akin to Play Do in our own minds. They might not appreciate it.

It is no wonder that many non-Christians are so offended when Christians say Jesus is the only way. If the Gospel can unify people of such opposing definitions of the Gospel, if the Gospel becomes something we do, if the Gospel becomes a tool to fix my marriage or a help to quit drinking or the mirads of other problems that man has need to get his best life now, then why not Buddha, Muhammad or Krishna or even naturalism's ways to "self help"?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Robertson's View On Haiti

Just a couple of quick comments on Pat Robertson's thinking and his statement on the 700 Club that can be seen on this video.

First, I have no idea what historical source this "true story" has come from. I just have to say that to get that out of the way.

Second, to contrast Haiti with its neighbor as somehow a way of being free from the devil is completely unbiblical. Is America somehow less sinful simply because we have freedom and liberty? Is it possible that God's grace could be more easily seen in a situation that is full of despair? Could it be that God is not testing Haiti, but is instead testing Americans to see what we will do with our prosperity?

Third, how does Robertson know why God is doing what He is doing? He has already demonstrated himself to be a false prophet when he said God told him Bush Sr. would be President (an actual true story that is quite verifiable).

The real problem with Robertson's thinking is that it leads to superstition. It is true that there is a law of sowing and reaping. If we sow corruption, then we can expect judgment from God in what we reap. But to try to interpret every historical event as if God were speaking directly through him is foolish at best.

The truth is, we have no idea of all of the secret purposes of God in this devastating earthquake. Perhaps God is now blessing Haiti with the destruction of its evil government by replacing it with a government that actually holds to liberty. Perhaps God is not going to do that at all but is doing something far worse or far greater. Perhaps He is going to bring the Gospel in a new and fresh way and the populace will embrace Christ. Who really knows?

In conclusion, there is a manner in which we must speak about the judgment and wrath of God that is typified in this catastrophe. But we must do so with clarity and do so biblically. For the wrath of God is always being revealed from heaven above. We saw it on 9/11. We are seeing it in Haiti. We are seeing it all around the world and in our own personal lives. The answer, though, is not to make ourselves better. The answer is in the Person and work of Jesus Christ and His Gospel.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

More of the End Times Made Simple

Calvary Press has recently published Sam Waldron's sequel, More of the End Times Made Simple. I suppose I could offer a book review, but I am not good at that kind of thing anyway. Instead I will offer a portion of the book that I found very helpful.

For years I have struggled with Jesus' Olivet discourse. In more recent years, the text has begun to make more sense, but there has still been one part that causes trouble...Matthew 24:34-36:
34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 36 "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.
The problem is obvious. How could this generation not pass away until all these things take place while no one knows the day or hour. And what's worse, 2000 years have since passed. The Dispensationalist simply explains this text from a futurist perspective. However, that overlooks many problems, especially the context of the passage to begin with.

The original questions were simple.
Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?
The Disciples thought both the destruction of the temple and the "Coming" were events that coincided. And in verses 34-36, the answer seems to have given that impression. Many times I have heard that we may not know the day or the hour, but we will know the generation. Yet that answer seems shallow.

Every time I read these verses, it just seems like Jesus is giving us the two answers. But does the language allow for there to be some kind of break or contrast between 34 and 36? Sam Waldron's explanation of this text confirms that the language does exactly that. On page 112 Waldron states,
That there is a contrast intended in these verses is plain from three things high-lighted in these verses. First, the fact that verse 36 begins with the word, but, must not be overlooked. This conjunction in Greek commonly is used to introduced a contrasting thought.

Second, the contrast in the two different demonstrative pronouns used in verses 34 and 36 respectively must not be overlooked. "These" is the immediate demonstrative pronoun used to designate something relatively near at hand. It is appropriately used to describe the relatively near occurrence of all the things associated with the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem. It is so used throughout the passage (Matthew 23:36; 24:3,8,33). "That" is the remote demonstrative pronoun used to designate something that is relatively distant. It is appropriately used to designate the day and hour of Christ's coming in glory.

Third, the contrast in the matter of time signs also cannot be overlooked. "This generation" as Murray shows is clearly a reference to the then living generation of Jews. Thus a general time sign is given for the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem. When Jesus says that "no one knows" including Himself of the day and hour of His return, there is a plain distinction introduced as to time signs between the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Coming of Christ.
So there it was the whole time. It is one thing to think it because it looks that way, but I'm not a scholar so am I reading my own thoughts into the text? It is quite another when others see it too. Now to have an exegetically based argument really drives it home.

This book is easy reading. It is admittedly an expansion of his first book. Any layman desiring to get a different view of the End Times from the popularized LaHaye Dispensational stuff, ought to read these books.

Friday, January 08, 2010

A Stupid Analogy

In my discussion with David, I wanted to come up with some kind of explanation that might show how I see the naturalist worldview. I realize there are far more brilliant men who can do a far better job than I am able, but here I go.

From my perspective, what I am hearing from David is that in a naturalistic universe, creatures evolve. One of these creatures becomes some kind of advanced caveman who discovers thoughts in a manner other creatures don't. He discovers laws of logic or that at least logic is needed to think coherent thoughts. He discovers that he is reasoning and using reason to think coherent thoughts. He realizes he is using words to articulate sentences. He doesn't care why these things are. They are just a part of this creation just as he is in some sense.

Then one day, he sees his fellow caveman, whom he called Cain, take a knife and kill another caveman, named Abel, in order to get his female. He realizes this is wrong and proceeds to tell Cain of his "evil".

Cain in turn explains to Caveman #1 that he is full of nonsense. Why just this morning he watched a starving lion eat her young. He recalled that their pet tiger had murdered an antelope last week. So he explained to the first caveman that there is no such thing as evil or murder and that the thoughts in his head were just chemical reactions (really smart caveman). Cain explained that he had just used conventional thoughts to force him to do something he did not want to do and to restrain him from doing something he wanted to do. In fact, he thought that was wrong if anything was going to be wrong.

Now Caveman #1 realized the inherent problem. If Cain is right about morality, then by logical extension, the other discoveries he had made were also problematic. So he instead tries to make a purely naturalistic case of why their lives would be better if....

Now of course one may take this and go in several directions with it. The point is presuppositions matter. I would further argue that people don't really think or live this way (even if it is in some kind of Schizophrenic way, living in a naturalistic world and a created world). Men intuitively know when something has a creator. No one would look at David's art and think David painted it beautifully because of some chemicals in his head accidentally did it that way. For the term beautiful must have a higher transcendent meaning to even use the word in this fashion. This is part of the Apostle's evidence that demonstrates that men suppress the truth and existence of God and instead exchange the Creator for that which is created.

In my view, to even have a discussion such as this in a purely naturalistic world is just a complete waste of time. Eat, drink and be merry. For tomorrow we are going to die. It is no wonder that so many intuitively live this way as well. Without Christ's resurrection, if God doesn't exist, so what, and if God does exist, we are doomed.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Quote of the Day by Douglas Wilson

Recently, Douglas Wilson was on Iron Sharpens Iron discussing his book/movie with atheist Christopher Hitchens. I thought his discription of Presuppositionalism verses Evidentialism was humourous.
There are two main schools of thought among Christians on presenting apologetic defenses of the faith. One is called Evidentialism and the other is Presuppositionalism. Evidentialism basically takes the unbeliever by the hand and says, "Let's assume common ground together in reason or science or historical studies, that sort of thing. And then sharing as we step into the shared world that we both have let me reason with you to the Bible or to the resurrection of Christ. I want to come along side you and lets reason to a Christian conclusion.

The Presuppositionalist begins with the ...doesn't try to reason to the Scripture. He rather reasons from the Scriptures. He assumes the truth of Scripture and reasons from that, and then requires the atheist or the unbeliever that he is debating with to do the same with his premises. So it is kind of like a demolition derby. Everybody gets into their presuppositions and drives around the ring.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Quote of the Day by Tim Keller

Tim Keller was recently on the White Horse Inn discussing his book, The Reason For God.
There's a philosophical answer to the problem of evil, and that is if you have a God big enough to be mad at for not stopping evil, then you have a God big enough to have reasons why He hasn't stopped evil that you can't conceive of.

In other words, if you got a God who is that infinite that He's big enough that you're mad at Him for not stopping it, then He's got to be able to have reasons for letting these things go that you can't think of. You can't have it both ways.
Listen here.

Brit Hume Offers Christ To Tiger

Dr. White linked to this video on his Blog. Frankly, I found this quite a statement.

Now one of the objections to Hume by secularists and mushy gushy feel good religionists has been correctly diagnosed and answered by many in the Reformed Protestant Camp. Why offer Christianity if Jesus is just another moral therapeutic salve? It seems Hume hit the nail on the head when he says Christianity offers forgiveness. If he means that Christianity offers more than some moralistic therapy, that someone outside of us has done something for us to reconcile us to God, then this is the message Christians need to start proclaiming with ever more clarity.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Woman Abused In Iran

Freedom and liberty certainly don't exist in Iran. Watch this video. It certainly makes one wonder why we want to bow down to political correctness when fellow image bearers are suffering.

Quote From Einstein

Every once in a while, I read a quote of Albert Einstein as if he believed in the Christian God. Yet here is a quote demonstrating otherwise. Kuddos to Pastor Riddlebarger.

"The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still purely primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this."

This is from a letter written by Albert Einstein (March 1, 1954).

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Ice Caps Have Melted

You know when the American Thinker reports that the Polar Ice Caps are melting away, you better take it real seriously. Read here.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Eye Witness vs Evolution

Well Happy New Year! One of New Year's Day's boredom is that certain cable stations play marathons of certain shows. Today, the Discovery channel is showing Myth Busters. It is a great show using the scientific method to prove or disprove many myths that permeate our culture.

In the episode I am currently watching a major contradiction has occurred. Can bullets fired up into the air and that fall back to the earth kill you? Initially, the circumstantial evidence showed that a bullet can not fall with enough speed to penetrate the human body. Yet when they went to an "international expert on falling bullets", they found that bullets shot up into the air has in fact killed people.

If you remember my earlier post in which Human Ape commented on how stupid creationists are, he used circumstantial evidence to show the contradiction between the Biblical account of creation and certain scientific evidence. This is where we must weigh eye witness testimony with forensic scientific experiments. There are times when eye witness testimony must outweigh what we think we have proved with science.

Now after more experiments by the Myth Busters, the apparent discrepancy became better understood. There was, in fact, no contradiction. Shooting bullets perfectly straight up into the air will probably not kill anyone. But that was just it. They have to be fired exactly straight up.

So although Evolutionists may come up with evidence against the Bible's view of creation, is there really a contradiction? Are all of the presuppositions carefully weighed and examined. Are all possible conclusions truly thought through? And have all further possible scientific discoveries really been ruled out? How often have scientific text books been changed due to new evidence and advanced science?

The Bible was written by eye witnesses. Christianity is not a religion of feelings or inward revelation. Its claims are historical and public. Should that not have weight in any discussion on origins?